British Executions

Thomas Clinton

Age: 28

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 28 Mar 1917

Crime Location: Camp of the Welsh Fusiliers, Barrow

Execution Place: Manchester

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Thomas Clinton was convicted of the murder of Henry Lynch 39 and sentenced to death.

He shot him at the Camp of the Welsh Fusiliers in Barrow on 13 January 1917.

Henry Lynch was a Sergeant Major.

Thomas Clinton had joined the army and had a bad record there and in the autumn of 1916 he had become the butt of all of Henry Lynch's jokes and bullying. Thomas Clinton finally snapped and walked into the guardroom where Henry Lynch was and called him. When Henry Lynch turned he shot him. Henry Lynch managed to stagger outside and Thomas Clinton was quickly arrested.

Thomas Clinton had been in the 20th Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

From 1902 to 1913 he had worked as a labourer with one firm but was discharged for being unreliable and using abusive language when spoken to. He then had short spells of work different firms until he enlisted in July 1915.

In 1914 he had been convicted three times for being drunk and disorderly.

His army record was also bad and in the 18 months that he had been in service he had been punished 17 times for absence, insolence, disobeying orders and being drunk etc.

In November 1916 he was confined to barracks for 7 days and fined 7/6, for which Henry Lynch was one of the witnesses against him.

On 13 January 1917 the battalion had been doing duty at Barrow-in-Furness and in the afternoon about 3pm Thomas Clinton had been one of the guard. However, he was not on sentry duty and should have been in the guardroom and his rifle should have been on the rack.

It was heard that Thomas Clinton had complained that day of having had no dinner and it was thought that his complaint might have been true as the dinners were short, but Henry Lynch was not concerned with the matter.

At 3.30pm Thomas Clinton went into the Company Office where Henry Lynch was sitting writing. He had a rifle with its bayonet fixed and was holding it in the 'on guard' position  and said, 'Now then Sergeant Major' and fired from a distance of about three feet, the bullet passing through Henry Lynch's neck causing him to die within a few minutes.

Thomas Clinton then dropped the rifle and went out holding his hands to his face exclaiming, 'I am dead, I am dead' and once outside he knelt on the ground.

It was noted that Thomas Clinton had had 20 cartridges served out to him as usual and that five of them should have been in the magazine of his rifle with the 'cut off' closed and the other 15 in his pouch. However, when the rifle was examined it was found to have had a spent cartridge in the firing chamber and 4 more in the magazine and another 15 in his pouch indicating that he must have deliberately opened the 'cut off' and loaded the rifle with the cartridge from the magazine which he could do by pulling back and closing the bolt.

When Thomas Clinton was questioned, he said, 'Did the bullet strike him, that is all I want to know. He has been a scamp to everyone in the Company. I am sorry to say he has been a bad 'un'.

He later said, 'Did the bullet go near the Sergeant Major? It's a pity it did not kill him, he is a bastard'.

He then later still said, 'He is a swine, it is a wonder he has not been laid out before. I let go at him, he deserved all he got'.

As such, the police report stated that in view of these statements the defence of it having been an accident which was set up at his trial was a hopeless one.

Thomas Clinton appealed his conviction but the appeal was dismissed and there was no recommendation to mercy.

He was executed at Manchester on 28 March 1928.

see National Archives - ASSI 52/266, HO 144/1472/328455

see Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 05 March 1917